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Closure of the main fuel shutoff valve doomed Misawa F-16

February 20, 2013 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The US Air Force says an F-16C flying from Japan to Alaska last July crashed at sea because of an uncommanded closure of the main fuel shutoff valve hence stopping fuel from reaching the engine.

USAF F-16C block 50 #92-3886 from the 14th FS conducts a mission over the Northern tundra during exercise Cope Thunder 06-03 held at Eielson AFB on July 28th, 2006. [USAF photo by SMSgt. Jeff Rohloff]

An accident investigation report released by Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii on Tuesday says the jet's main fuel shut-off valve was partially closed for more than three minutes and fully closed for three minutes.

Investigators weren't able to determine why the valve closed because vital pieces of evidence weren't recovered from the ocean floor.

The aircraft, assigned to Misawa's 14th Fighter Squadron, was part of a four-ship formation of F-16s en route from Misawa to Eielson AFB, Alaska, to participate in a Red Flag training exercise. The F-16 experienced a loss of engine thrust from which the pilot was unable to recover, states PACAF's Feb. 19 release.

The pilot ejected safely and was retrieved after about six hours by a combined Japanese and U.S. rescue mission. He wasn't injured.

The F-16C with tail number #92-3886, crashed in waters approximately 750 miles northeast of Misawa and was destroyed, an estimated loss of $32.6 million, according to the documents.

Additional images:

Mission markings on USAF F-16C block 50 #92-3886 from the 13th FS (marked up as 14th FS) during their deployment for OIF at PSAB on May 19th, 2003. [14th FS photo]

USAF F-16C block 50 #92-3886 from the 14th FS returns to Misawa AB on October 4th, 2007 after eight months of two successive OIF deployments to Balad AB with the 14th EFS and the 13th EFS. [USAF photo by SA. Robert Barnett]

USAF F-16C block 50 #92-3886 from the 14 FS at Balad AB on April 19th, 2007. A1C. Timothy Korpolewski, has been named the 332nd AEW's Airman of the Week for April 13-19, 2007. He is deployed from the 35th MXS. [USAF photo by SrA. Candace Romano]